Looking back… and forward: a thesis in progress

January 7, 2010

New Years is a great time for reflection and making plans and so over the past couple of weeks (and between the rounds of visits and parties that is the holiday season in Honduras) I have been doing a lot of thinking, much of it about my PhD, the work I’ve done and what I have left to do. So, in the spirit of the season, here’s a short round-up of some of my research-related achievements for 2009, and my goals for 2010.


Confirmed! After completing 2 large literature reviews and a longish proposal in March I underwent the ritual of confirmation.  This is the process by which the university assesses whether a PhD candidate has met the requirements of the first year of the program, and has a research proposal that is sound academically and ethically. Prior to this a candidate is on a provisional registration, following success at confirmation the student is fully registered… and the clock is ticking to completion!

Data Collection: Following confirmation most of my energy could finally be directed towards actually doing the research. As with most fieldwork, things didn’t quite go completely to plan, with delays and changes due to political and family crises.  While I haven’t done as many visits and interviews as I originally anticipated my data file is packed, I have over 400 data “sources”, not including the notebooks and computer files  of  fieldnotes I’ve made myself over the past year. Whew.

Conference: Despite the ongoing crisis and curfews the Conference on Honduras went ahead more or less to plan in September, and I presented a brief report on the progress of my research and early findings.  At the time I thought it went well, although I didn’t receive a lot of feedback.  More important than the presentation was the opportunity to reconnect with people I’d met in 2008, and to meet others, which is really the whole point of the conference anyway!

Living in Honduras: While I have been married to a Honduran for 8 years, and have made 3 previous visits of 2-4 months to the country, this was my first opportunity to actually live here.  It’s been wonderful… mostly.  We found a lovely place to live in the mountains outside Tegucigalpa, and I have enjoyed getting to know the culture and people of Honduras in a much deeper way.  My Spanish is slowly improving too!


So what is on the agenda for 2010?

Finish data collection and analysis: I have just four weeks and a few interviews to finish up here in Honduras before returning to NZ.  I have already started working through the data and will continue the process in NZ.

Conference I will be attending the doctoral colloquium at a conference in Savannah, Georgia in February (after leaving Honduras and before returning to NZ!).  This is a great opportunity to share my research and learn from others, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Writing: This is the main challenge for the year.  Although I have two more years of enrolment to finish the thesis, I have just one more year of scholarship money so I’d really like to get it done as much as possible.  The goal?  A complete draft completed before the New Zealand International Development Studies Network conference in December which I will be helping to organise.

This should be more than enough to keep me busy, along with family commitments and the usual new years “resolutions” to eat better and exercise more!  Keep this site bookmarked (or subscribe to the RSS feed on the right) to keep track of my progress and possibly even to be among the first to see some of my results and writing!

One Response to “Looking back… and forward: a thesis in progress”

  1. […] I am supposed to be writing my PhD thesis this year.  This image from indexed kind of sums up the year ahead of me.  Maybe I need to study more closely Lifehacker’s advice on better tools for better […]

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